Song Review: TVXQ – Down

TVXQ performed Down on this year’s MAMA Awards as the first taste of their upcoming album. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since their last Korean comeback. I’m hopeful their new music will be an extension of their excellent catalog, but lately SM Entertainment has struggled to deliver the goods when it comes to their veteran artists. And with longtime collaborator Yoo Young-Jin gone from the agency, I’m not sure what to expect.

In many ways, Down is classic TVXQ. Its slow-burn energy is punctuated by moments of vocal drama (that climax!) and the lurching production gives them plenty of space to show off. But when it comes to slower tracks like this, there’s a narrow path I tend to find successful. A song like Down needs an incredible melody and an even better sense of tension. I think back to TVXQ’s own Before U Go — a slow-burn masterpiece if I’ve ever heard one. In contrast, Down feels too restrained in almost every way.

Rather than smooth R&B runs and lengthy moments of melodic interest, Down‘s songwriting is much more clipped. I love the drama of the instrumental during the chorus, where guitar enters the mix to give the song more drive and grit. I wish Down found more for TVXQ themselves to do at this point. Apart from the very cool production, there’s not much of a hook to be found. In this way, Down feels like a performance piece and probably works better with an accompanying visual. I hope they have stronger songs up their sleeves for the album.






Grade: C+

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